February 16, 2007 Ghost Rider
Studio: Columbia Pictures Rating: PG-13 for horror violence and disturbing images.
A comic book spirit roars to life on the big screen, astride a flaming motorcycle.
Nicholas Cage channels his inner Elvis to portray stunt rider Johnny Blaze in "Ghost Rider." As a young man Blaze sells his soul to the devil to try and save his father. But Mephistopheles alters the deal.
Years later, Satan comes to collect on the debt. He turns Blaze into "the devil's bounty hunter" called the "Ghost Rider."
However, Satan's son named Blackheart (Wes Bentley) is also on the scene. With a team of fallen angels who hide among the elements of air, water and earth, Blackheart wants to find a contract for one thousand souls which has been hidden for more than a hundred years.
If he gets the contract he can begin his quest to take over the world.
Mephistopheles dispatches his Ghost Rider to stop him but that causes trouble for Blaze and his old flame Roxanne Simpson (Eva Mendes). The night of his first transformation Blaze misses a date Roxanne. He tries to tell her the truth about what happened but she doesn't believe him. Roxanne walks away, convinced Johnny is lying about his actions and his feelings.
Eventually, Roxanne learns the truth, as Johnny takes on the supernatural villains who want to enslave humanity.
"Ghost Rider" doesn't take itself very seriously. Thankfully despite the treatment of the source material, Cage throws himself into the title role and does a pretty good job. Other performances worth mentioning are Peter Fonda (Mephistopheles) and Sam Elliott (Caretaker). But other than those three actors no one else in the cast stands out. Mendes is particularly bad. Her old girlfriend/TV reporter is bland, boring and not very believable. Mendes is beautiful but she does little more than serve as eye candy. The villains are also very generic. Think "The O.C. meets the Underworld" as trenchcoat wearing bad guys sneer and strut but don't really provide much of a challenge.
As for the Ghost Rider, he is a computer creation and looks great. The special effects are impressive as the Rider and his flaming bike interact with the real world.
"Ghost Rider" is a mix. Sometimes it's corny, cheesy and downright bad. But then a good scene comes along and it offers a pleasant diversion. Don't go expecting too much and you'll probably have a decent time.
On my rating scale, "Ghost Rider" earns a Double.
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